Sunday, August 16, 2009

Could SEO Spur Internet Gentrification?

Since the internet came into existence everything was about leveling the playing field. There's Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, the bits economy of costs getting closer and closer to zero, the idea that music should be free, and the ruling principle that on the internet anyone can do anything. All these concepts remain, but now that the internet is growing into an unfathomable web of layered thoughts and contextual relationships it seems like our content consumption is depending more and more on 1. friend recommendations (something I plan to address in a future write up) and 2. the power of search.

Whether you're a traditional Googler, a nerdy early adopter of Wolfram Alpha, or a sucker for Bing!'s bizarre advertising, what you consume is depending more and more on keywords and the algorithms of search engines. Companies are paying a lot of money for SEO gurus to guarantee top search results and I only see this trend increasing. I could be totally wrong, but I foresee a time when we need complicated SEO techniques to guarantee search placement. And what happens then?

What happens to the mainstream web user who doesn't know the intricacies of SEO? More important, what happens to the people in that category who can't afford to hire someone to optimize their page? Will their content get buried because they don't have the money or resources to put their content at the top? Maybe I don't know enough about search (Full disclosure: SEO is my weakest area to date), but the thought seems plausible. Maybe someone can prove me wrong? If not, one day we'll have to kiss democratization on the internet goodbye and find ourselves entrenched in yet another classed system run by capitalism.


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Reverie Sound Revue - "One Marathon"